Vigor Industrial is a comprehensive marine services provider specializing in shipbuilding and ship repair. Three years ago, Vigor initiated an aggressive growth strategy that consolidated major shipyard facilities in Oregon, Washington, and Alaska under one umbrella, and more than doubled the size of its business, and leading a renaissance of the marine business on the U.S. West Coast.
Over the next five years, Vigor has set its sights on an expansion plan that will double the current size of the company.
Shipyard Investment and Improvement
In early 2012, Vigor Industrial acquired Alaska Ship & Drydock (ASD). ASD’s strategic position in the ice-free waters of Alaska’s southern panhandle combined with a skilled Alaskan workforce, that possesses advanced expertise in the needs of arctic operations, made it a good fit for Vigor Industrial’s five year growth strategy. Since the acquisition, construction of a 70,000 sq. ft. assembly hall, with adjacent five story production center, has been completed. ASD is currently working on the first vessel to be completed in the new hall, The Arctic Prowler, a 136 ft., steel-hulled longliner for Alaska Longline Company. Vigor’s strongest investment, now and in the future, will continue to be in its people. There is no question that manufacturing success hinges upon the availability of skilled workers in a wide variety of trades. Industrial jobs matter and Vigor is deeply committed to doing its part to ensure that the well-trained workforce, necessary for the future of the industry, is available.
The Swan Island Training Center at Vigor’s Portland shipyard is a proactive step to train a new generation of welders. The training center is a public/private partnership between Vigor Industrial and Portland Community College. It was founded in 2008 with Vigor’s initial $200,000 investment and ongoing support of $10,000 to $20,000 per month. Students of the training center gain hands-on experience and graduates supply Vigor companies and surrounding manufacturing firms with the skilled labor necessary for continued success. As important as these efforts are, Vigor recognizes that a broader solution to workforce development is necessary, one that aligns the objectives of America’s education system with employer needs. At a time when the public school system is eliminating vocational career paths, Vigor is actively engaged in a partnership with industry, community groups and labor to establish a vocational skills program at an existing charter high school. Vigor’s $100,000 contribution this year to help start the program is an important step toward solving the shrinking pool of skilled industrial workers among the younger population entering the workforce.
Industry partners include the Manufacturing 21 Coalition; Impact Northwest, a non-profit with programs for at-risk youth; LEP High, a public charter school in Portland; and Oregon Labor Commissioner, Brad Avakian who is actively engaging union participation. Each sector has already made significant contributions in terms of dollars, time and skill. Each will also have unique responsibilities aimed at providing high school students with an in-depth exploration of manufacturing career opportunities, showing them a clear path for achievement, and providing training for early development of requisite skills and competencies. If all goes according to plan, the new program at LEP High will admit its first students in the fall of 2013.
In February, 2012, Vigor Industrial subsidiary, US Fab, began construction of the first, Olympic Class, 144-car auto/passenger ferry in Washington State Ferries’ fleet (WSF). US Fab teams have built six consecutive ferries for WSF, the largest ferry system in the United States and the fourth largest in the world. The 144-car ferry measures 362 x 83 x 25 ft. and is being fabricated in the extensive facilities of Vigor’s Seattle yard. It is the first of four and features a steel monohull design with an aluminum wheelhouse and is being built to current USCG regulations. An integrated propulsion package features two (2) main diesel engines, gear boxes and controllable pitched propellers. US Fab’s in-house engineering staff will collaborate closely with the exceptional team at WSF throughout the entire production process.
The three 64-car, 750 passenger ferries recently constructed by US Fab prior to the commencement of work on the 144-car project won the regional, American Transportation Award for “Under Budget, Large Project.” US Fab delivered the three Kwa-di Tabil class ferries three months ahead of schedule and $7 million under budget.
The 144-car ferry is scheduled for delivery in early 2014.
(As published in the August 2012 edition of Maritime Reporter - www.marinelink.com)